French Polynesian leaders address UN decolonisation committee

6:08 am on 6 October 2017

French Polynesian leaders have addressed the UN decolonisation committee in New York, with the government and the opposition split on the question of sovereignty.

Edouard Fritch addresses the UN decolonisation debate

Edouard Fritch addresses the UN decolonisation debate Photo: supplied / French Polynesian Presidency

The government said it didn't understand why French Polynesia was back on the list of non-self-governing territories, given its large measure of autonomy.

French Polynesian president Edouard Fritch said his priority was development and not ideology - a reference to the aspirations of the pro-independence delegates led by Oscar Temaru.

Mr Temaru said autonomy was an illusion, pointing to the colonial policy of using French Polynesia to test nuclear weapons, which he labelled a premeditated crime.

The territory, which has been fully French since 1880, was returned onto the UN decolonisation list by the UN General Assembly in 2013.

In 2013, Mr Fritch and his predecessor Gaston Flosse called for an independence referendum before the end of the year, but France ignored their plea and the resolution to that end passed by the French Polynesian territorial assembly.

France, which has resented the UN move to relist French Polynesia, has described it as a glaring interference and as a result has been boycotting the committee's proceedings.

France, however, recognises the decolonisation process in New Caledonia, which is scheduled to have an independence vote next year.

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